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[GreenYes] Re: milk carton and aseptic package recycling/composting
thanks for all your hard work!  In writing you earlier i was going off of my 
previous research with other companies and they had not done a fraction of 
what you have done.  I am pleased to know that your energies are connected 
to such a large company as tetra pak.  i appreciate our dialog and i'll 
write more later.
take care,
mark barron

>From: "Debbi Dodson" <>
>To: Mark Barron <>,
>Subject: Re: milk carton and aseptic package recycling/composting
>Date: Thu, 08 Nov 2001 11:52:11 -0800
>Hi Mark:  Thanks for your email.  See my response to your comments below:
>Debbi Dodson
>Dodson & Associates
>4209 Huerfano Avenue
>San Diego, CA   92117
>858-272-6805 fax
> >From: "Mark Barron" <>
> >To:,
> >Subject: Re: milk carton and aseptic package recycling/composting
> >Date: Fri, Nov 2, 2001, 10:43 AM
> >
> >    my experiment revealed to me that after one and a half months, the 
> > carton did not degrade even slightly in a compost pile managed by my
> > university (Appalachian State).  This pile was very aerobically active, 
> > at a constant 130-140 degrees F, and was about 20'wide, 8'tall, 10'deep. 
>  i
> > even shredded these cartons to different size strips at widths from 1/8" 
> > 1/4".
> >   this indicates very possible problems with compost residency times - 
> > not so much with smaller projects ie. high schools, residential; but 
> > municiple compost waste management systems, (where the cartons probably
> > won't even be shredded) where time constraints exist, the carton, due to 
> > polyethylene layers both inside and out, may outlast the other 
>I don't know how you define municipal compost waste management systems, but
>I believe the programs I referred to in my original email would qualify as
>large municipal programs.  San Joaquin Composting produces 100,000 tons of
>compost annually.  The B&J Compost facility in Vacaville, CA handles all 
>material produced by the City of San Francisco, in addition to other
>municipal programs.  The other two composters who have successfully
>composted milk cartons are LRI in Puyallup, WA and Community Recycling in
>Sun Valley, CA.  Both of these are very large, multi-million dollar
> >   I agree with you that the production, transportation, and vitamin 
> > aspects of the carton may very well be superior - but what about the 
> > half of the loop?
> >   you mentioned that schools and cities are working to recycle and 
> > the cartons but what about Tetra Pak's and International Paper Co.'s 
> > to create and support an infrastructure to deal with your products after 
> > consumer's use?  why put all the responsibility on the consumer to 
> > the cartons and find markets to deal with the recycling process that the
> > vast majority of paper mills don't facilitate?
>I can't speak for International Paper since I don't work for them.  
>I can tell you that Tetra Pak has been a driver behind the school and
>cities' efforts to recycle.  The paper gable top and aseptic carton
>recycling/composting programs did not just materialize over night.
>Municipal recycling coordinators and MRF operators did not just wake up one
>morning and say "Whoa!  We should be recycling milk cartons and aseptic
>packaging!"  For at least the last 10 years Tetra Pak has employed a cadre
>of environmental coordinators to educate municipalities, schools, MRF
>operators and paper mills about the recyclability of these products.  Until
>we started our education campaign, most of these people thought milk 
>were still coated with wax.  Though the addition of new programs has slowed
>down recently, (as has the recycling rate in general), we continue to hold
>the course and push for improved access to recycling for consumers of
>products in our packages.
>For the past 5 years I personally have been working with Los Angeles 
>School District and their carton composting program.  I can tell you with
>absolute certainty that without my efforts the District would have switched
>to an alternative milk container that is 100 percent disposable.  Did we
>have a market-based reason for my efforts?  Absolutely.  However, I would
>like you to know that my efforts to push composting with LAUSD did not stop
>with milk cartons. I knew that milk cartons, though very visible, were not
>the largest part of a school cafeteria's waste stream.  Despite their best
>efforts, the District was not going to see a huge amount of diversion from 
>carton composting program.  However, if you added all of the cafeteria food
>waste and other soiled papers, it was possible to divert well over 20% of
>the District's total waste stream, (and over 80% of the cafeteria waste
>stream).  Thanks to my continual pushing, (and I do mean pushing), the
>District just completed a pilot program of a "cafeterias to compost" 
>at six elementary schools.  The data is being evaluated by the District's
>project consultant and will be used to develop a District-wide program that
>has the potential to divert all of the District's organics from the 
>and to a composting facility.  This was accomplished despite the best
>efforts of some high-level LAUSD staff members to switch to the disposable
>package, the best efforts of a well known California consultant who is 
>best for his ability to crunch numbers that show ridiculous amounts of
>diversion through "source reduction" (example:  Kids don't eat green beans;
>beans get thrown away.  Don't serve green beans, SOURCE REDUCTION!) and
>various high level staff changes.
>I generally don't boast about our efforts.  I usually take the time to find
>just the right phrase and tone when I write about our activities.  But 
>you wanted boasting, I loosened up and gave it to you.  I was an
>environmentalist before I came to work for Tetra Pak, and I remain one.  I
>have no hesitancy in saying that the paper gable top carton and aseptic
>package are good packages.
> >   You boast (and rightly so) about the first part of your "smart cycle."
> > wouldn't it be nice to boast about the last part of your cycle as well?
> > thanks for your time,
> > ~mark barron
> >
> >
> >
> >>From: "Debbi Dodson" <>
> >>To:
> >>Subject: milk carton and aseptic package recycling/composting
> >>Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 13:03:27 -0700
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>Hi Mark:  A friend on the GreenYes list serve forwarded your email
> >>regarding
> >>the recyclability/compostability of milk cartons and aseptic packaging.  
> >>am the West Coast Environmental Coordinator for Tetra Pak, a 
> >>of
> >>these packages.
> >>
> >>First I wanted to commend you on the innovative reuse of the cartons.  
> >>heard of using them for bird feeders and planters, but never roof 
> >>Glad they are working for you.
> >>
> >>Second, I wanted to correct a couple of statements  you made.  Milk 
> >>are not aka aseptic packaging.  They are two different types of 
> >>They have similarities, primarily in composition,  but they are 
> >>The average milk carton is 85% paper and 15% low-density polyethylene.  
> >>average aseptic package is 70% paper, 24% low density polyethylene and 
> >>aluminum.  Their difference is primarily in how the packages are
> >>manufactured, filled, transported and stored -- the aseptic carton 
> >>the environmental advantage of the two packages in these categories.
> >>
> >>Contrary to your statement, these packages are not examples of bad
> >>packaging.  The old familiar paper milk carton is still the best package
> >>for
> >>milk when you consider the purpose of the package -- maintaining product
> >>hygiene and protecting the nutrients and flavor.  Light, artificial or
> >>natural, is an enemy to the nutrients in milk.  According to a 1986 
> >>University Study, milk loses a little over 50% of its vitamin A after 12
> >>hours of exposure to light, and 90% of its vitamin A after 24 hours.  
> >>and translucent plastic packages offer no protection against this light
> >>intrusion.  Consider  how long the milk containers sit in the grocer's
> >>refrigerator before being purchased and consider again which package
> >>contains the more nutritious product at the time of purchase.
> >>
> >>The aseptic package is one of the most environmentally responsible 
> >>on the market today.  In 1996 the aseptic package was awarded the
> >>Presidential Award for Sustainable Development.  No other package has
> >>received this environmental honor.  The Tellus Institute, an independent
> >>environmental research firm, conducted a study examining the 
> >>impacts of various single-serve packaging materials.  Their conclusion 
> >>that the aseptic carton was one of the best single-serve packaging 
> >>for the environment.
> >>
> >>As I'm sure you are aware, the waste hierarchy is "reduce, reuse, 
> >>The aseptic package is one of the most source reduced packages 
> >>It is 96% product and only 4% package.  Everything from its manufacture
> >>through transportation and storage is environmentally friendly.  Because 
> >>the unique method in which the cartons are manufactured, they are 
> >>to
> >>our customers as large rolls, (rather than as formed cartons).  This
> >>feature
> >>means that 1.5 million single-serve aseptic packages can be shipped on 
> >>truck, vs the 14 trucks that would be required to ship the same number 
> >>glass bottles.  Once filled at our customer's sites, these packages 
> >>no refrigeration during transportation to the grocers or in storage.  
> >>features result in a huge energy savings.
> >>
> >>Currently, 20% of households in the U.S. that have curbside recycling 
> >>recycle aseptic cartons and milk cartons in their curbside program.
> >>Seattle
> >>added these packages to their program just last year.  You are partially
> >>correct in stating that programs have difficulty collecting enough of 
> >>to make it worth the effort, (they make up approximately .01% of the 
> >>stream).  However, one of the outcomes for programs that face this
> >>challenge
> >>is that these packages are now being included in mixed paper.  The 
> >>of
> >>Portland, OR, Long Beach, CA and Chula Vista, CA all collect these 
> >>in their mixed paper collection programs.
> >>
> >>And finally, regarding the compostability of the cartons, I must 
> >>with your assertion that the cartons are not compostable.  The milk 
> >>from Los Angeles Unified School District have been composted by San 
> >>Composting for over 3 years now.  The City of San Francisco, after
> >>conducting a pilot, includes milk cartons in their residential 
> >>program, (pilot program for aseptic packages is pending).  In fact, the
> >>City
> >>recommends that the milk carton be used as the perfect collection 
> >>to
> >>move kitchen food scraps from the kitchen down to the curbside bin.  We 
> >>now working with Jeff Gage, LRI in Puyallup, WA to establish a school
> >>cafeterias to compost program in Western Washington.  While it is true 
> >>the plastic does not decompose and must be screened off, the paper fiber
> >>does compost.
> >>
> >>Thanks for reading through this long missive.  I appreciate your
> >>willingness
> >>to listen.  Don't hesitate to drop me a line if you have any questions
> >>about
> >>any of the above, or about any questions I may not have addressed.  
> >>--
> >>Debbi Dodson
> >>West Coast Environmental Coordinator
> >>Tetra Pak
> >>4209 Huerfano Avenue
> >>San Diego, CA   92117
> >>858-272-6804 phone
> >>858-272-6805 fax
> >
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
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> >
> >

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